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Beijing’s omerta on the Covid-19 pandemic

China can celebrate the Lunar New Year cheerfully if Vice Premier Liu He is to be believed. At the Davos Forum, in front of an audience of thousands of world leaders, the number two Chinese welcomed on January 17 a return to normal which has “exceeded our expectations”.

Beijing is sticking to its mortality figures of 60,000 deaths in thirty-five days after the lifting of its zero Covid policy on December 7, 2022, and believes that the epidemic outbreak is behind it.

The number of feverish patients seeking medicine has fallen 94% from the peak of December 23, and hospitalizations by more than 44% since last January 5, said on January 19, Guo Hanhong, director of the department. medical emergencies of the National Health Commission, reports the daily China Daily.

The gigantic migration rush for the Lunar New Year

This reassuring picture collides directly with Western concerns. The scientific journal Nature reported projections of one million deaths in a few months on December 19. The English health modeling company Airfinity estimates, as of January 19, that 674,000 Chinese have died from Covid since the beginning of December and that 36,000 daily deaths are to be expected at the heart of the Lunar New Year holidays.

“The situation is terrible and it will last with the mixing of the population”, comments Bruno Lina, virologist at the Lyon University Hospital and member of the Committee for monitoring and anticipating health risks (Covars). According to the Chinese authorities, 480 million Chinese had already begun to travel to the country before January 19 and this gigantic migration rush should last until February 15.

Beijing refuses Western vaccines

Beijing ostensibly denies the obvious. In its January 18 issue, China Daily denounces “the false stories of the West on the Covid” and the “China bashing carnival”. Beijing intends to hold the bar alone. The power declined the offers of vaccines made by the United States as early as December 20, and also by the European Union, as revealed on January 3 by the FinancialTimesthe two powers worrying about the planetary repercussions if China were to lose control of the epidemic.

It has also remained deaf to calls from the World Health Organization (WHO), which has repeatedly called for rapid and reliable epidemiological data and sequencing of the virus in real time. “Compared to what France communicates, China delivers a thousandth of the information. However, we are not totally blind to the virus and we know that today none of the variants circulating pose a major problem”, tempers Bruno Lina.

Cooperation with China stopped in March 2020

China battened down the hatches in the spring of 2020, according to Jean Ruffier, a CNRS researcher emeritus who long ran a research center at Sun-Yatsen University in Canton. “It had opened up to international cooperation on viruses, which had worked well during the Sars epidemic in 2003, does he remember. The collaboration gradually tightened under the presidency of Xi Jinping and came to a dead halt in March 2020.” The researcher sees a direct connection with the omerta practiced by Beijing on the origin of the Covid virus.

“It is the fault of the States if the WHO does not have the power to demand information and can only issue recommendations. Yet the lesson of the Covid is that it must be given power to manage pandemics”, laments German Velasquez, former director of the public health department of the WHO and special adviser to the South Centre, an intergovernmental organization of developing countries in Geneva.

“Relations are no more complicated with China than with the other major powers which do not hesitate to exert pressure on the WHO”, he adds. But he wants to believe that the curtain on the pandemic in China will be partially lifted during the WHO Executive Council at the end of January. The Chinese delegation will be present. And there will obviously be a question of the Covid in China.

Source : BBN NEWS

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